EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to pray for revival, spiritual awakening and global outreach among our churches and in our nation and our world.
O’FALLON, Ill. (BP) — My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Madagascar with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandbabies who serve as career missionaries with the International Mission Board.
Here are some lessons learned while there:
1. We should be grateful for American plumbing.
Perhaps you haven’t thanked the Lord for those many blessings that other places don’t take for granted, such as American plumbing. The western world has unbelievable riches compared to much of our world. With those blessings come some responsibilities. Pray for flexibility and grace.
2. Missions is hard.
After the idealism wears off, there is the reality of difficult language study — or in the case of my daughter’s family, sort of two languages to learn with the dialect of their people group. There is the reality of bad smells and undependable electricity and strange food and customs. It is hard. Pray for joyful endurance.
3. The call matters.
If you become a career missionary to see the world and have fun and take some neat pictures, you will undoubtedly leave. If you have a clear call from God to career missions — even if you have nothing else — you can make it. It may end up being all that helps you make it. But God’s will is always the right place to be. Pray for unflagging confidence in God’s call.
4. Support from “home” matters.
Career missionaries need our prayers and love. And, a package of goodies from home doesn’t hurt. Pray for creative and timely ideas.
5. Encouragement helps.
It is nice for missionaries to know that family, friends and home churches care. There are plenty of discouragements that come easily — and the enemy knows how to use them. But encouragement is like the balm of Gilead. And who doesn’t like a little balm of Gilead on occasion? Pray for visible and verbal affirmations along the way.
6. Missionaries can have a lasting impact.
I love mission trips but they can’t replace the need for career missionaries who learn the language and the needs and opportunities within the culture. Pray that God will raise up churches and individuals who will pray consistently and give sacrificially.
7. It is great to have a caring missions network.
The International Mission Board is a network of likeminded folks who help with logistics, accountability and planning for our missionaries. I am so grateful for them. They provide a valuable safety net. Pray both for field missionaries and the staff who support them.
I will be giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions this year and encourage you to do the same. Ask God what He’d have you give. Then respond in obedience.